Around this time last year, there was a lot of doubt about Lotus’ future in the automotive world. After a disastrous 2012 that saw CEO Dany Bahar fired mid-year and his controversial model-expansion plans suspended, speculation was flying that Lotus could either wilt into oblivion or be bought out by another company like Aston Martin or a Chinese brand. Now, the storied British automaker has received a jolt of life in the form of a $16.9 million (£10.44 million) grant from the British government.
The grant from England’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF), which helps support projects in the private sector to create jobs and long-term economic growth, will create 313 full-time jobs at Lotus. RGF’s grant is a welcome addition to a $161.8 million (£100 million) investment from Lotus’ parent company, DRB-Hicom, earlier this year. DRB-Hicom’s investment was said to create 100 new jobs, including 45 engineers, 40 manufacturing operatives, and 18 university graduates.
“This grant is part of a wider strategy for Lotus created to ensure we thrive and grow,” said Lotus’ chief operating officer Aslam Farikullah, in a statement. “We are responding to increased global demand for our cars and engineering consultancy services and this grant will help to position Lotus at the forefront of global automotive innovation.”
While Lotus has always been known for its engineering prowess and focus on simple, lightweight sports cars, its lack of widespread appeal and practicality is an Achilles’ heel in the modern market. However, the British automaker’s recent expansion into the Malaysian market with a flagship dealership in Kuala Lumpur, as well as a new locations in Southampton, England and near Munich, Germany point to higher demand.
Lotus is currently implementing a three-year plan that will introduce variants of the existing Elise, Exige, and Evora models, according to Auto Express, some of which we have already seen with Lotus’ new Exige S Roadster, Exige V6 Cup, and Elise S Cup R.
Lotus clearly needs a more consistent cash flow if it is to stay afloat, but it remains to be seen whether this grant will allow the company to address the problem of low sales and narrow appeal by launching new cars.